Patellar tendonitis, also known as jumper’s knee, is an injury to the tendon that connects your kneecap to your shin bones. This is the same tendon that allows you to straighten your knees. This condition is characterised by inflammation of the patellar tendon, which results in pain and tenderness at the front of the knees. Swelling may be present in the area, and the pain may be especially severe when kneeling, bending or straightening your knee. Jumping, running and walking will also be affected. If left untreated, tears may occur in your tendon.
Patellar tendonitis can be classified into four stages:
- During stage one, you may still be able to go about your daily activities without any functional impairments, with pain only occurring after activity.
- During stage two, pain may be experienced both during and after the activity, although it is possible for an individual to perform as per normal.
- During stage three, pain is experienced during the activity and persists long after. Athletic performance will be progressively impaired and can only be achieved by “powering through the pain”.
- In stage four, the patellar tendon will have deteriorated to such an extent that surgical repair may be the only way to recover from the injury.
What Causes Knee Pain from Patellar Tendonitis?
Patellar tendonitis is an overuse injury of the knee joint commonly experienced by people who frequently engage in activities that result in high impact to the knee area, such as frequent squatting or jumping on hard surfaces. Athletes involved in sports such as basketball and volleyball are especially susceptible to this condition due to the strain these sports place on the knees. If the individual continues to power through with strenuous activity despite the pain, microscopic fractures on the lower edge of the kneecap can occur. The soreness will likely develop into a chronic condition.
Other causes of patellar tendonitis include structural abnormalities in the lower limbs, such as having flat feet or weak gluteal muscles. Patellar tendonitis is a common comorbidity with other orthopaedic conditions. Your orthopaedic specialist will usually diagnose this condition based on your symptoms and a physical examination. An x-ray, ultrasound or other medical imaging technology may be needed to clarify the severity of your condition.
Get Your Patellar Tendonitis Inflammation Treated in Singapore Today
Possible treatments for patellar tendonitis include knee strapping to reduce pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory injections or medicines, physiotherapy to manage the pain and inflammation or orthotics to support structural problems like flat feet. Ultimately, it is best to stop all activity that may be causing your patellar tendon to degenerate until the injury is healed. Our orthopaedic specialists in Singapore will be able to help diagnose your condition and suggest a suitable treatment plan to manage your knee pain. Book an appointment with a specialist orthopaedic centre today to get on the road to recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions about Patellar Tendonitis
1. How will a physician diagnose patellar tendonitis?
Patellar tendonitis, or jumper’s knee, can be mistaken for other injuries including quadriceps injury, knee bursitis, meniscal injuries as well as other pathologies of the knee. Your attending physician will analyse your symptoms around the kneecap area to account for tenderness, pain, swelling, bruising or discomfort with activities like stretching, straightening or bending your knee.
The best way to objectively diagnose jumper’s knee would be to conduct an ultrasound. This is a non-invasive method that provides a dynamic image of the knee structures to help your physician better understand the severity of your condition. MRIs and x-rays are other available options that can aid orthopaedic specialists in their diagnosis.
2. How is patellar tendonitis treated?
It is important to detect patellar tendonitis early as this condition has potential to deteriorate into a chronic disability. When in doubt it is always better to place less than more stress on the area of injury. Physiotherapy treatments may be prescribed to increase the flexibility of muscles surrounding the knee like the quadriceps and hamstring. Some physicians will also prescribe anti-inflammatory injections or analgesic medication to reduce the pain. Other treatment options for patellar tendonitis include dry needling, hypothermia thermotherapy and extracorporeal shockwave treatment.
Most cases of patellar tendonitis will resolve with non-operative treatment. Surgery is often recommended as a last resort for severe tendon tears once more conservative and non-invasive treatment options have been exhausted. If advised, an arthroscopic debridement surgery may be carried out. This surgery involves inserting a small camera and surgical instruments into the knee joint to help the surgeon remove damaged tissue. If your patellar tendon needs to be realigned, your doctor may opt for an arthroscopic resection of the inferior aspect of the patella. Get in touch with OrthofootMD in Singapore to discuss the best treatment option for your condition today.
3. Can I continue to participate in competitive sports with patellar tendonitis?
While it might be tempting to power through the pain and participate in athletic competitions as per usual, this is not advisable as you’ll run the risk of causing your condition to worsen. The longer you wait to seek treatment the more you run the risk of aggravating your injury and exposing yourself to unnecessary complications. Athletic participation should be minimised and only engaged in after consulting with a trained physician. Your physician will be able to come up with a treatment plan taking into account your athletic goals and the health of your body. Daily exercises should be modified to include adequate warm-ups and rest periods with priority given to knee strengthening exercises.
4. How long will patellar tendonitis take to heal?
As with all conditions, the time taken for full recovery will depend on the individual’s condition. Most people with mild to moderate patellar tendonitis will experience improvement in their condition within the first few months with diligent rest and strengthening exercises. It is recommended to continue with physical therapy even after your initial injury has healed to help reduce the risk of recurrent injury or your condition turning chronic.
Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is currently an orthopaedic surgeon with Island Orthopaedic, a one-stop care centre for orthopaedic health under Healthway Medical Group. He specialises in treating lower limb orthopaedic conditions, as well as trauma and fracture surgery of both the upper and lower limbs. Prior to establishing his private practice, Dr Gowreeson was Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.